Small, But Mighty: Resources For Navigating Online Commerce In a World of Uncertainty
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It’s crazy how fast life can change.
In a flash. In a second. With the snap of a finger.
Not long ago, small business owners were setting ambitious goals for the new year — and the new decade.
This would be the year you launched a new product or brand.
The month you would set a record for sales.
Or even, just maybe, the month you decided to take an idea and set out to make it a reality.
Instead, small businesses around the world are grappling with the harsh impacts of COVID-19.
Personally, it deeply saddens me to see what the virus has done to our communities, our lifestyles, and our businesses.
Being a small business writer, I’ve always been inspired by those who lead businesses. It takes an immense amount of hard work, diligence, and passion to turn an idea into reality — and even more, that reality into a thriving, successful business.
COVID-19 has quickly uprooted both our personal and professional lives. As we temporarily adapt to a new lifestyle, it’s crucial you take active steps to protect the health of your business.
You may be wondering, “Where do I even start?” By standing up to the challenge, with no fear.
In a time where the world stands still and social distancing keeps us apart, we stay connected through a robust online commerce community.
Near and far, consumers have stepped up to advocate, protect, and support small businesses.
Now, it’s my turn to offer support. Here are resources to help you in your small, but mighty, fight against the business effects of COVID-19.
COVID-19: Credits, Discounts, and Free Courses Available
When there is a crisis, communities come together. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen not only federal and state governments offer support, but other fellow businesses.
1. BigCommerce Agency Partners offering discounted services.
Here are a few offers from our BigCommerce agency partners.
|1Digital||Free SEO Consultation + One month free SEO Consulting Services|
|DCKAP||Free 30 day product offerings|
|Samba Rock||Offering service packages|
|Be a Part Of||10 hours of free services and funding through Clearbank (limited availability).|
|RedStage||Extended coverage for customer support|
|RMG Media||Offering their standard BI & Analytics platform and complementary strategy services at no charge through June 2020|
|Coalition||4 hours of free support for SMB|
|Razoyo||Coronoa virus survival guide|
|Cart Consultants||Quick launch package - 24 hour launch|
|Optimum7||Quick launch program with business consulting session - 24 hour launch|
|hi-five web||Speed launch program with options|
|Razoyo||Customized coaching and launch program|
|Be a Part Of||Free 24 hr launch program|
|DigitlHaus||15% off new BigCommerce sites + custom payment plans|
|Arizon Digital||Free discovery sessions to optimize your eCommerce solution. Up to 25% discount on hourly rates.|
|Brilliance Web||24 hr launch package|
|Coalition Technologies||Quick launch program|
2. BigCommerce Technology Partners making a difference for small businesses.
We are proud to have a strong partner network at BigCommerce. Just like us, our partners have a passion for helping merchants succeed — especially during difficult times. Here are some ways our partner community is helping small businesses through COVID-19.
Privy, a technology partner that helps capture and convert your website visitors into loyal customers, is launching ‘A Call To Shop Small’ in midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we know small businesses like yours are worried about the days ahead. Not only do you have to worry about you and your family’s health, but you also have to somehow continue running your business…
At Privy, we’ve been talking to our customers, partners, families and friends over the last week. We know most people want to support small ecommerce brands instead of a giant corporation, but they don’t know where to find small ecommerce brands to shop.
That’s why we’re launching ShopSmallEcomm.com, the world’s first marketplace for small ecommerce brands.”
To be included, simply submit your store here.
Skubana, a technology partner providing multichannel inventory management and ERP solutions, is hosting a virtual webinar with Cleveland Research Company, Deliverr, Feedonomics and Tinuiti.
The webinar is focused on surviving COVID-19 as a marketplace seller and is available on demand.
The team shares, “COVID-19 is causing unprecedented challenges for brands and retailers. Supply chain disruptions, worker furloughs, and social containment strategies will greatly impact us for the foreseeable future. Learn the steps you can take today to survive this global pandemic and build a stronger, more resilient business.”
To register, simply click here and submit your information.
Intuit Quickbooks has teamed up with Go Fund Me to offer The Small Business Relief Initiative. The company is seeding this initiative with up to $1 million. For more details, visit the website.
— Intuit QuickBooks (@QuickBooks) March 24, 2020
Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform, is taking it to social media to connect with small businesses.
The technology partner is sharing regular content as well as daily ecommerce business and consumer survey insights related to COVID-19. You can also stay updated with these insights on Twitter by giving them a follow here.
As you contemplate the best way to navigate a new normal and communicate with your customers, we’ve taken a few notes on displaying empathy to effectively and appropriately get your message across https://t.co/fBMfSvgL0w
— Klaviyo (@klaviyo) March 19, 2020
Facebook announced on Tuesday, March 17 that they will be offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in the countries where they operate.
These grants can do a few things for your small business:
- Keep your workforce going strong,
- Assist with operational costs (like rent), and
- Allow you to focus on connecting with more customers.
Applications have not begun yet, but should become available in the coming weeks. You can sign up for updates — or find more COVID-19 resources from Facebook — here.
Avalara, a technology partner that automates tax compliance, has created a tax relief round up to help businesses navigate taxes during COVID-19. To learn what types of tax relief your business qualifies for, click here.
3. Discounts for small businesses.
There are various brands and companies offering discounts on products or services that may help your business through this tough time — here are a few.
Please note, we will continue to update this list as we learn of more!
Square just launched their curbside pickup feature for their point-of-sale merchants. Due to the heightened importance of social distancing, they are waiving fees for the first 3 months.
In addition, if you are an existing Square customer, the company is refunding software subscription fees for March 2020. This will be done automatically and requires no additional action from your business.
As many companies have opted to go remote, video conferencing may be a new tool your business depends on.
Lifesize, the world’s first global 4k video conferencing technology, is offering free, unlimited video conferencing to all global businesses for six months.
4. Credits for small businesses.
Credit issuers are also empathetic to the strain COVID-19 is having on small businesses. If you have any loans or are a business card holder through the following financial institutions, you may be able to get some relief.
For the next 30 days (subject to extension and beginning on March 9, 2020), CitiBank is evaluating small business card holders affected by COVID-19.
Potential assistance they are offering on a case-by-case basis includes: fee waivers on monthly service fees and remote deposit capture and waived penalties for early CD withdrawal.
Through their Financial Hardship program, American Express has been waiving some late fees for personal and business card holders, evaluating on a case-by-case basis. Businesses have seen success by contacting them through their chat function.
The American Express Working Capital program can also provide working access to funds for affected small businesses.
While not an official policy, several small business customers have reported success in having late fees waived and interest rates lowered based on the effects of COVID-19.
5. Free Online Courses.
While most of us are home practicing social distancing, it’s also a great time to catch up on our education. The following companies are offering free online courses for a limited time — you don’t want to miss this!
Brit & Co
Brit & Co, a media company focused on inspiring, educating and entertaining real women with a creative spirit, is offering their creative classes for free through the end of March. Simply head on over to brit.co/learn and use the code SELFCARE at checkout.
Blogging for Business
Hosted by Ahrefs, Blogging for Business will take you through 10 tutorials to teach you how to grow your blog beyond 100K monthly visitors — and how to convert your thousands of readers.
Digital Marketer is offering a complimentary Lab membership for the month of March — which may be extended longer depending on how COVID-19 progresses.
Founder and CEO of Digital Marketer, Ryan Deiss, shares, “We believe that now is the time to give, so we simply want to give freely of what we have.”
What’s included in a Lab membership?
- 36 marketing checklists and execution plans,
- 11 certifications and master courses,
- Access to an exclusive, members-only Facebook group, and
- Weekly updates and live trainings.
Ivy League Courses
Have you always wanted to take a course at an Ivy League school? Now is your chance.
There are currently 450 complimentary courses on the following topics:
- Computer Science
- Data Science
- Art & Design
- Social Sciences
- Health & Medicine
- Education & Teaching
- Personal Development
Looking to expand your YouTube channel? The platform is currently offering free courses through their Creator Academy. Topics span across getting started, content strategy, production, channel optimization and more.
Twitter Flight School
Similar to YouTube, Twitter also is also offering complimentary education on their platform known as Twitter Flight School. Topics include, but are not limited to, getting started with Twitter Ads Manager and creating and executing video campaigns.
6. Additional business resources to rely on.
To help small businesses overcome all of the unexpected events occurring during COVID-19, thought leaders, organizations, and associations are also creating valuable resources—here are a few.
Tinuiti has created a live resource hub with the latest news and cutting edge strategies for marketers at a pivotal moment in global history.
This live resource includes webinars, Q&As, live trends and blog posts covering multiple channels including Email Marketing, CRO, Paid Search, SEO, Amazon and more. Check it out here.
U.S. Chamber is an organization dedicated to representing the interests of small businesses and associations. The U.S. chamber developed a COVID-19 tool kit to help businesses learn how to adapt to the current COVID-19 environment.
Score.org is a nonprofit organization that acts as a resource partner for the U.S. Small Business Association. The nonprofit has curated a COVID-19 resource hub that focuses on small business finances, cash-flow management, and how to run an online business.
U.S. COVID-19 Federal Relief and Resources for Businesses
As the pandemic has spread across the United States, federal relief and resources have been put in place for businesses. Here are several resources to help relieve the detrimental business effects of COVID-19.
1. IRS Support.
Two words: unfortunate timing. As the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also tax season. In hopes of bringing relief to U.S. businesses, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering extended federal income tax payment deadlines for many filers.
For taxpayers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, mark your calendars.
For many taxpayers, July 15, 2020 is the new due date for making federal income tax payments.
To be clear, the filing deadline for most federal income tax returns remains April 15, 2020. If you are owed a refund, the IRS encourages you to file as quickly as possible.
If you cannot file by April 15, 2020, you may also be eligible to request a six-month extension to file your federal income tax return.
2. Small Business Loans.
To combat COVID-19, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to help small businesses in designated states and territories. At the time of this posting, the current interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
In order for your business location to be eligible for a low-interest federal disaster loan, your state or territory’s governor must coordinate with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance to submit a request.
Consult the link above for a list of states and territories that are currently eligible. At the time of posting, the list was as follows:
- State of California.
- State of Connecticut with contiguous counties: Massachusetts — Berkshire, Hampden and Worcester; New York— Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester.
- District of Columbia with contiguous counties: Maryland — Montgomery and Prince Georges; Virginia — Alexandria City, Arlington and Fairfax.
- State of Maine with contiguous counties: New Hampshire — Carroll, Rockingham and Strafford.
- State of Montana with contiguous counties: Idaho — Clearwater, Fremont and Idaho; North Dakota — Divide and Williams; Wyoming — Park and Teton.
- State of Nevada with contiguous counties: Arizona — Mohave; Idaho — Cassia, Owyhee, Twin Falls; Oregon — Harney and Lake.
- State of New Mexico with contiguous counties: Arizona — Apache, Greenlee; Colorado — Archuleta, Costilla, La Plata, Las Animas, Montezuma; Texas — Andrews, Cochran, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Gaines, Hartley, Loving, Oldham, Winkler, Yoakum.
- State of Rhode Island with contiguous counties: Connecticut — New London, Windham; Massachusetts — Bristol, Norfolk, Worcester.
- State of Utah with contiguous counties: Arizona — Apache, Coconino, Mohave, Navajo; Colorado — Dolores, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, San Miguel; Wyoming — Sweetwater, Uinta.
- State of Washington with contiguous counties: Idaho — Benewah, Latah, Nez Perce; Oregon — Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla and Wasco
- State of West Virginia with contiguous counties: Kentucky — Boyd, Lawrence, Martin and Pike.
Here’s what you need to know about the loan itself:
- This specific loan, known as SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans, offers up to $2 million in assistance to small businesses,
- May be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid due to COVID-19, and
- Comes with the possibility of long-term repayments — up to a maximum of 30 years.
It’s important to note that the terms of loans are determined on a case-by-case basis, and are impacted by, among other considerations, each borrower’s ability to repay the loan.
Overall, these loans are a great resource as they have the power to support your small business as it battles the impacts of COVID-19.
Applicants are encouraged to apply online for a disaster loan or you can call 1‐800‐659‐2955.
3. Small Business Association.
The good news is that the SBA offers much more than loans.
The SBA offers resources such as:
- Free business counseling,
- Disaster preparedness plans,
- Investment capital,
- Surety bonds,
- Business courses, and
- Business guides.
SBA has made it easy to find all the information you need for managing your small business during the COVID-19 crisis. This is a great page to bookmark in your browser and find daily updates.
4. State-by-State Business Relief and Resources.
In the United States, relief and resources to combat COVID-19 vary state-by-state.
We have created a reference sheet that includes many of the available state specific resources. Please utilize this sheet to find your local relief and resources.
Global Resources for Navigating COVID-19
The medical crisis we are facing is felt around the world. If you are selling cross-border or are located outside of the United States, take a look at the following international resources.
The Australian government released a statement on their economic response. Key takeaways included cash flow and tax assistance and support for apprentices and trainees.
In regards to cash flow and tax assistance, the government is introducing what’s called ‘The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers’ measure which may provide up to $25,000 back to certain small and
medium-sized businesses. These payments will generally be tax free in Australia.
As for support for apprentices and trainees, eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of up to 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months (between January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020). The government believes this will help support up to 70,000 small businesses across the country.
2. United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is taking active steps to support their small businesses during the current crisis.
Across the UK, the chancellor has approved a small business relief package which includes, per the government website:
- “Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs,
- 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England,
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief,
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000,
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank, and
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.”
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, addressed small businesses impacted by COVID-19 in a recent statement published on the government’s official website. The country is offering support in multiple ways, including:
- Allowing certain businesses to defer certain income tax payments until after August 31, 2020, and
- Increasing available credit for Canadian businesses through the Business Credit Availability Program which will provide more than $10 billion of additional support.
In addition, BDC, Canada’s only bank devoted to entrepreneurs, has stepped up to offer additional resources for businesses affected by COVID-19.
Per their website:
“Effective March 18, 2020, new relief measures for qualified businesses include:
- Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses,
- Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less,
- Reduced rates on new eligible loans, and
- Additional details regarding Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) measures, including industry specific support, to be announced in the coming days.”
4. New Zealand.
The New Zealand government has announced it will aid small businesses through an economic response package which includes:
- A wage subsidy scheme,
- Leave and self-isolation support,
- Business cash flow and tax measures, and
- A wider $12.1 billion package.
If your business is experiencing tax-related issues, Inland Revenue has a multitude of ways they may be able to help.
In addition, New Zealand businesses are encouraged to contact their bank for financial advice and support on topics such as principal payments and loans and gaining access to short-term funding.
Italy has experienced the hardest hit outside of China throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses are struggling due to an extreme amount of uncertainty (and major business complications) — in addition to the extreme changes to daily life.
The government has ordered a nation-wide lock down, forcing businesses both small and large to find business solutions — overnight. With Italy being a business hub for large manufacturing industries, like fashion, supply chain delays are one of the biggest challenges.
The reality? Italian businesses are becoming quickly overwhelmed as they face massive supply chain hurdles.
To combat this challenge, on Monday, March 16, 2020, the Italian government approved a €25 billion economic package.
According to Vogue Business, this package includes “a deferment of contributions, tax and tax withholdings due on March 16-31, 2020 for entities that declare a turnover of less than €2 million and for those supply chains most harshly hit by the emergency. The decree also suspends mortgages and loan repayments and freezes collective dismissals.”
Connect With Your Community
Now more than ever is the time to connect with your customers.
How are they feeling? How can you provide value and support during this difficult time?
Creating a positive space for your customers can help strengthen your community. In addition, listen to ways your customers want to support you. Offer them transparency into the big challenges your business faces or even insight into the little things — like adapting to work from home life.
No matter the industry your business serves, there are ways to nurture and tap into the community. Lean into that.
Address COVID-19 with your customers in a raw, empathetic tone — you’ll be surprised by the positive responses coming your way.
This is a trying time for small businesses around the world.
These resources are the initial step to creating a robust business plan to combat COVID-19.
As always, we are here to offer support and will continue to do our part in providing resources to help your business come out of this pandemic even stronger.
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